|Volume 17 Number 11 November 2015||
It is proverbially said that there are two things certain – death and taxes. The Bible certainly affirms the first. “And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die…” (Hebrews 9:27). So, we cannot expect to get out of this world alive.
However, this article will examine some exceptions – some who did escape death and some who shall escape death.
It should be stated at the outset, that death is essentially a separation. Physical death is the separation of the body from the spirit (James 2:26), and spiritual death is a separation of a soul (by sin) from God (Isaiah 59:2).
First let’s consider the past. “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). This verse leaves us with many questions. Yet thankfully, you and I have the New Testament, which serves as a divine commentary on many Old Testament passages. The Book of Hebrews gives further explanation. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God translated him…” (11:5).
Another unique leaving of this world was provided to Elijah. “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11). Read 2 Kings 2:9-12.
Second, we can look to the future. There is a day coming when Jesus shall return. From His own lips, our blessed Savior said that He was going back to His Father and that He would return. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again…” (John 14:3). When Jesus returns, He will get as close as the clouds, and those who are alive will ascend (Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Please note that both the good and evil who have died will be raised simultaneously (John 5:28-29).
So there have been a rare few who escaped physical death, and there shall be a multitude alive when the Lord returns. However, no one shall escape the judgment. “For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
[Editor’s Note: Therefore, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Yesterday is gone, and the future has not yet come. Non-Christians, voluntarily implement the teaching of Jesus into your lives (Mark 16:16). Erring Christians, repent and pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:22-39). Then, truly we can entertain hope of either avoiding death at the return of our Lord Jesus or being resurrected and collected by our Lord. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 NKJV)
The Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5-7 was addressed to the disciples. “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them saying…” (Matthew 5:1-2).
The main divisions of Chapter 6 are: (1) on what the human mind should be set (6:1), (2) almsgiving (6:2-4), (3) how disciples should pray (6:5-8), (4) the model of what prayer should be (6:9-15), (5) fasting (6:16-18), (6) care about riches (6:19-24) and (7) the care about necessities of life (6:25-34). The Lord in this sermon not only taught what was not to be done, but He also taught what was to be done!
Prayer is so important that Jesus gave instruction as to how it should be done. Jesus did not use flowery and mysterious language. He used only the simplest of words. He did not teach men to pray so as to impress other men with their learning. Rather, the model prayer is the very essence of simplicity.
As part of the model prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to pray “Thy kingdom come.” Before the day of Pentecost, the followers of Jesus prayed, “Thy kingdom come.” Since the kingdom (the church) has been established, Christians are no longer to ask for what is already a reality (Matthew 16:18-19; Colossians 1:13; Mark 9:1). The preacher in the rural countryside in one of the oldest congregations in the area had the audience repeat all of the model prayer. J.W. McGarvey was correct when he said Jesus was teaching His disciples to pray for “the inauguration of the kingdom which Jesus came to establish.” Are brethren today to recite all of the model prayer?
[Editor’s Note: It is obvious that neither ought contemporary brethren to recite repetitive prayers nor should they pray words that no longer apply today. Our Lord condemned repetitious prayers (Matthew 6:7). In addition, it is a demonstration of ignorance and maybe arrogance, too, to ask in prayer for what has already occurred, namely the establishment of the Lord’s eternal kingdom or church. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]